If we say Nissan Pathfinder, what do you think of? If you’ve been around for a long time, you might remember the original – a tough, truck-like vehicle (much like the original Toyota 4Runner) that won owners over with its rugged, go-anywhere ability and square-jawed looks.
If you’re not of that vintage, you might have a less than rosy view of Nissan’s SUV. The most recent model when towards the family SUV, and while it was pleasant, it had some issues, and was generally viewed as somewhere between meh and OK.
Well, there’s great news for Pathfinder fans, for 2022 we have an all-new model, and it promises to bring back that tough, capable vibe, while adding much of the great tech that Nissan is now delivering on its vehicles.
So, is the Pathfinder back? Let’s find out!
Once again, it’s a looker.
First impressions are strong. Up front the look is bold with a large version of Nissan’s V-Motion grille, featuring a heaping serving of chrome on our Platinum tester, along with signature C-shaped headlights. We like the Nissan logo design that looks fresh and are especially pleased with the three horizontal slots at the top of the grille, an Easter Egg design cue that remembers the slotted hood of the original Pathfinder.
There are more nods to the original in the profile. The swept back C-pillar reminds of the early model’s triangular side window, while muscular fender flares are also an homage to the tough and trucky look of the original.
This is still a modern design, and we love the new two-tone black roof that gives a sleeker look to the body. Finishing off the athletic lines are handsome 20-inch alloy wheels, while a chrome lower panel features an embossed Pathfinder logo for a rich look.
At the rear, slim LED taillights keep the design clean, while the Nissan logo pops. PATHFINDER is spelled out in big letters that look epic and impressive, while a contrasting silver-tone lower fascia adds some off-road cache to the overall vibe.
Handsome and Upscale Inside
The interior is a beautiful blend of high-end luxury and square-jawed, tough looks.
Opening the door of our Platinum model is a jaw-dropper, with a two-tone interior with rich semi-aniline leather, a handsome full digital dash display, and a “bridge” design center console putting items close at hand, while serving up extra storage underneath.
We love the front seats, being both heated and ventilated as well as supportive, but the second row is also comfy with Captain’s chairs – a first on any Pathfinder. Nissan also does families a solid by offering 2nd row seats that can tilt and slide with a child seat on board. (Not with a kiddo in there, of course!). The Platinum’s Captain’s give easy access to the third row, which really is for kids. Lower trim models offer a 2nd row bench, giving room for eight.
Other smart thinking includes a cargo area with room for a 120-quart cooler or four golf bags with all three-rows up. Heading to the Home Remodeling center? With the seats down, you can fit 4-foot wide plywood sheets. Those who like hiking or other muddy activities will appreciate the easy-to-clean luggage box under the cargo floor – great for stashing muddy gear.
Back in the driver’s seat, you enjoy a handsome digital gauge display that’s modern and crisp, with tachometer, speedo and center driver’s display that’s customizable for all sorts of info. If that’s not enough, the 10.8-inch Head-Up Display gives loads of info without having to look away from the road.
Info-tainment is handled by a 9.0-inch tablet in the center console, and Nissan shows careful planning giving both volume and tuning knobs, so access is easy. That big screen is especially nice for Apps like WAZE, and we love Nissan’s AroundView Monitor that gives you a 360-degree bird’s eye view. While other competitors now offer this tech, Nissan was the first. Just sayin’. And on a vehicle the Pathfinder’s size that kind of visibility makes parking and maneuvering a snap.
The 13-speaker Bose audio system sounded terrific, and you have the full NissanConnect suite, which includes door-to-door Navigation, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot and more. We loved the subtle interior mood lighting that made the Pathfinder feel extra swanky at night.
We also loved the sporty nods like the D-shaped steering wheel and mouse-like shift lever that feels and looks modern and fresh. We also like the blend of materials – while our Platinum was upscale and classy with details like stitching throughout the interior, everything has a heft and tough build quality that looks like it will stand up to years of family-style use and abuse.
Return to Rugged
Driving the Pathfinder is a nice return to the capable, go-anywhere feel of the early models, combined with the high-tech running gear you expect in a modern SUV.
Under the hood is Nissan’s familiar 3.5-liter V6, a punchy, responsive unit with a strong 284 horsepower and a nice sound when you give it the boot. Even better, the previous model’s CVT transmission – long a sore point – has been replaced by a proper 9-speed automatic. Acceleration is strong and smooth, and with the 9-speed’s long ratios, highway travel is smooth and efficient.
Ride quality is smooth, but Nissan kept it feeling firm, giving confidence on-road and off. And you’re good to go just about anywhere with the available intelligent 4WD with 7-position Drive and Terrain Model Selector. A handy circular knob lets you choose between Standard, Eco, Sport, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut and Tow settings. Towing the big toys should be easy with an available 6,000-pound towing capacity.
Being a large family vehicle, every Pathfinder features Nissan’s comprehensive driver assistance suite called Safety Shield 360, while Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Lane Intervention and Traffic Sign Recognition are also available.
Our Platinum also had ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link which combines adaptive cruise control and lane centering with the Navigation system so the vehicle can proactively reduce speeds for upcoming freeway curves and also help the driver slow for freeway exits. Pretty cool!
Will the Pathfinder fit in my budget?
Sure. Like most Nissan models, you have a wide range of trims to meet your pocketbook. You can get into a Pathfinder S 2WD for just $34,640. For a rugged, handsome, 8-passenger vehicle with that powerful V6 and 9-speed automatic, that’s a big value.
Our Pathfinder Platinum 4WD is at the other end of the spectrum, coming in fully loaded at $48,090. Adding in 2-tone paint ($745), Running boards, a carpet kit and lighting package plus $1,175 for destination, and we rang the bell at $51,790.
Competition would include the current big dog Kia Telluride, at $47,320. A great choice, and probably the Nissan’s closest competition in the tough-and-rugged segment. Mazda’s CX-9 is the driver’s choice at $45,255, slightly smaller than the Nissan, but lovely as well. The Toyota Highlander is also worth a look, and at $51,175, comparably priced to the Pathfinder.
They are all good choices. The fact that the Pathfinder is now on equal footing with all of them shows just how much it has improved.
Rugged, capable, handsome, and luxurious, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is back – and at the top of the class!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.